Starting to look inside the world of fan fiction

               I
was talking to some people about what they thought of fan fiction, and it seems
that there are quite a few people with some very strong opinions. Out of the 10
people I spoke to, four people said unequivocally that fan fiction was
pseudo-literature that is really just a hobby more than something worth
dedicating a lot of time to. The same people also felt that it was a sign of
limited creativity and a lack of skill as a writer.
                Three out of 10 people responded with indifference and the other three thought that fan
fiction is a legitimate style and a fun way for writers to express their
creativity. What do you think?
                I
have to admit prior to doing research on the topic I wasn’t completely familiar
with the genre of fan fiction. I had a vague understanding of the concept, but I haven’t had much exposure to examples of this genre. And after speaking more
thoroughly to those four strong-minded people about their exposure to fan fiction,
they also said they hadn’t read any or had that much knowledge of what went
into writing fan fiction.
                This
month on our blog we’re discussing the idea that fan fiction could potentially
help you as a writer. But those four out of ten people might suggest there isn’t
much to gain! “Can’t you just think of your own original idea instead of stealing
someone else’s?” Good point. Let’s look a little deeper into fan fiction to
answer it better.
                Fan
fiction uses the raw materials from a popular writer. Popular fan fiction is
actually often based on works of fiction with cult followings. These are often
bred out of ideas that have a larger than niche appeal and have what is
referred to in many different industries as “staying power.” So fan fiction in essence
takes the characters and sometimes settings from their original context and
puts them through unique situations. This means that good fan fiction requires
that you have a good handle on the characters you are writing about and their
past experiences so that you can “realistically” (in a fictional way) elaborate
and add to their fictional lives.
                I
would be willing to argue that in some ways this could be more difficult and
nerve-racking for people who do not just write fan fiction for themselves but
for other fans. There are high expectations, and there is already a loyal
following to the characters and all they have been through. People can be a lot
more forgiving of characters they don’t already know. They are more willing to
learn things about novel characters than ones they already likely feel some
personal connection to. Think of stories like Twilight, Harry Potter, Star Trek
with monumental followings. The pressure is enough to create diamonds from
dust.

                We
are going to delve a little deeper this month into what it means to write fan
fiction and the technical skills it requires, but for now I would encourage
those of you who do see it as just a form of “idea stealing” to keep an open
mind. Who knows? You might just be inspired to write some fan fiction yourself!